Diversity is a hot topic of conversation in UK business, but in some ways I question its sudden popularity and relevance. To my mind, creating a supportive working culture of which a diverse workforce is one measure, is a no-brainer. It is not solely about being inclusive, or just politically correct; it's simply that the more diverse your workforce is, the better your business will be. Better in terms of output, results and staff well-being.
Unfortunately, people from minority groups such as the LGBT community, still face discrimination every day, inside and outside of the workplace, so it's great to see organisations such as OUTstanding and the Financial Times working to help stamp this out by raising awareness of the issues they face.
On a personal and professional level, it is a real privilege to be recognised in the FT's Top 30 Ally list amongst so many big names in business. It is, I believe, our role as leaders, to raise awareness of the issues that LGBT individuals face and help others understand the importance of equality, fairness and acceptance for all, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.
Raising awareness is crucial to laying the foundations for acceptance in the workplace, but it mustn't be allowed to become mere lip-service. Inclusion is something that we all need to work on, no matter what level we are at, whether it be board member or an intern, regardless of the industry we work in.
The benefits to companies in supporting diversity are significant; from attracting and retaining talent to increasing employee wellbeing and satisfaction and driving better performance, diversity gives companies a distinct competitive advantage, as well as making them better places to work!
In his recent book, The Glass Closet, Lord Browne, the former CEO of BP, explained that whilst gay men and women in the Western world enjoy greater acceptance and more legal protection than ever before, an alarming number of businessmen and women choose to remain closeted at work.
Research shows that 32% of transgender workers think coming out would have a negative effect on promotions, and 90% report mistreatment or harassment at work. It's deeply saddening and somewhat scandalous, that people still feel they feel they cannot be both openly LGBT in business and be successful.
Diversity, in all its various forms, is the foundation that holds us up as an agency. It makes our work more creative, the people more interesting and our results impactful. This is an area we not only strive to maintain our position in, but one we aim to lead. My personal ambition is to create a supportive working culture for all of my employees so that they can bring their best selves to work, and they can only do that if they feel valued and accepted for who they are.
It is with this in mind that we will bring all ten of our agencies together under one roof when we move to Sea Containers on South Bank early next year, facilitating a culture where ideas and solutions can come from anywhere and anyone, regardless of their specialism or labels society places on them.